Sudan’s fighting rivals sign agreement but no ceasefire

Sudan’s Army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have signed an agreement to facilitate humanitarian aid to the conflict-ridden African country, which faces a severe food crisis following weeks-long military conflict.

Media reports said on Friday that the two rival military forces agreed to protect civilians but failed to reach a ceasefire deal.

Representatives of the sides, who are negotiating a peace deal in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, signed a declaration, agreeing that the army and special forces will “will take all precautions to spare any harm to civilians” and adopt “simple and rapid procedures for humanitarian relief operations in Sudan.”

The Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan will guide the conduct of the two forces to enable the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance, the restoration of essential services, the withdrawal of forces from hospitals and clinics, and the respectful burial of the dead.

In addition, the two sides agreed not to interfere with the evacuation from the country and respect private and public property in Sudan.

They also agreed to refrain from recruiting teenagers into their units and using children in hostilities.

Peace negotiations began in Jeddah between representatives of the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces on May 6, 2023. The negotiating parties have described the Sudan conflict as an internal affair, urging foreign states not to interfere in Sudanese politics.

In the meantime, fighting goes on in Sudan as the power struggle continues between the Army Chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who also heads the ruling Sovereignty Council, and the Head of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemedti, who is al-Burhan’s deputy on the council.

On Thursday, clashes between rivaling forces broke out in Halfaya, an entry point to the capital Khartoum, as residents heard warplanes circling over Khartoum and its adjoining cities of Bahri and Omdurman, but the fighting appeared calmer than on Wednesday.

Neither side seems to show its readiness to offer concessions to end the conflict that erupted suddenly last month, threatening to pitch Sudan into a civil war, exacerbating the hardships of Sudan’s people and possibly triggering a humanitarian crisis of massive proportion with failing power and water, little food and a collapsing health system.

The World Health Organization has said more than 600 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured since the fighting erupted last month.

An estimated 700,000 people have fled their homes with 150,000 fleeing to neighboring countries as refugees, according to UN figures.

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